What Ship Is That? Part Four

Brig Ship

What Ship Is This?

The Ship Chandlers team is back with yet another insider look at historical ship variations and fun facts to go along with it. In the previous instalment of ‘What Ship is That’ we took a look at the Barquentine, Battleship & Bergantina. Today we continue our foray into the fascinating world of historical shipping by taking a look at the compact Bilander, the truly old-school Bireme, and the deadly Brig.

The Bilander – Swift & Compact

The Bilander was a compact, yet swift, two-masted merchant ship favoured and produced by the Dutch. Although primarily used for regional trading or shipping along inland canals, these ships did venture as far as the North Sea and Mediterranean.

DID YOU KNOW? Modern-day Amsterdam has more than 160 canals that cover more than 1000 kilometers and are crossed by 1700+ bridges (1300 more than Venice!). These canals separate the city into 90 separate islands and many residents (more than 3000) actually live on houseboats on the water. Most of the canals in the city was built during the 17th century, an era that is now called the ‘Dutch Golden Age’. Interestingly, swimming in the canals is not recommended since there are often hidden hazards (including many bicycles!) below the surface.

The Bireme – As Old-School As They Come

When we say old-school, we mean 350 BC. Jip, the design for the Bireme was around in the time of the ancient Greeks. Suitable for both commercial shipping and naval warfare, it was fitted with double tiers of oars so the vessel could provide enough ‘human propulsion’ in case of low winds or if increased control was required during battle. It also featured a bronze-armored ram on the bow that would be used as a battering ram in the hopes of causing a below-water breach in their competitor’s hull during combat.

DID YOU KNOW? The spread of ancient Greek culture can largely be attributed to their insatiable love of trading. Some of the most sought-after trading goods collected and distributed by the ancient Greeks included wheat, slaves from Egypt, grain from the Black Sea territories, wood for shipbuilding, as well as papyrus and textiles.

The Brig – Handsome, Yet Deadly

The dauntless Brig was one good-looking warship. Armed with no less than 18 cannonades and two long guns, this vessel was all about inflicting maximum impact. The hold was given over to shot and gunpowder storage, while officers and crew got their rest in quarters on the berthing deck.

DID YOU KNOW? The cannon was first invented in China in the 12th century and was preceded by the fire lance, a very early gunpowder weapon that looked a lot like a big stick of fireworks tied to a spear. The first traces of cannons in Europe were seen during the 13th century, when the Christian and Muslim kingdoms in Spain were at war in Iberia.

Check back soon for Part Five that will delve into the intricacies of the Brigantine, Brighton Hog Boat, and Budgerow respectively.

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